Among the earliest kinds of hat is the wide-brimmed straw hat, which has been used by different kinds of people throughout the ages. This type of hat is actually very cheap and easy to produce, using the very abundant straw as the main material. The wide availability and inexpensive cost of this hat makes it a favorite among farmers and field workers to this day. Quite interestingly, socialites are also rather fond of this hat because it protects their complexion very efficiently against sunburns and other dangers of excessive sun exposure.
While protection is indeed one of the main uses of hats, there are also a lot of hats used for aesthetic and symbolic purposes. For instance, in the olden Roman days, newly freed slaves wore the Phrygian cap to demonstrate their new social status. Religious officials also wore different kinds of hats denoting their position in the church. In the same way, some political leaders also donned headwear to show their authority.
The materials used to make hats have also evolved. Traditionally, most hats were made of straw, leather or even cloth. Today, you can find hats that use a variety of artificial materials such as plastics and synthetic leather. The shape of hats has also changed a lot, from the simple skullcaps of long ago to the more sophisticated and decorative designs worn by the ladies of English royalty.
In fact, when we think about these ladies’ hats, what often comes to mind is a combination of flowers and ribbons and feathers designed to catch the eye. This is a very far cry from the original hats that women first wore during the medieval period. Most of these hats were drab, colorless garments only used to conceal the hair in an effort to promote modesty among women. Quite frankly, these medieval women would have been greatly shocked had they known how hats would have looked a few centuries down the road.
One of the most popular types of ladies’ hats during the 18th and 19th centuries was the bonnet. However, towards the end of the 19th century, young women began to regard bonnets as accessories for old women, spurring the development of new kinds of hats for the younger generations. These new innovations included the boater hat, which was immensely popular due to the sporty style that young modern women preferred. It was also during this time that the large elaborate Edwardian hats also became popular, with ornaments sometimes towering more than a foot above the crown of the head.
During the First World War, women took to cutting their hair in a bob style. On cue, hat manufacturers developed a new hat style resembling the helmet of a soldier, which was a perfect match for the bob. These were popular for only about two decades, after which women began to lose interest in wearing hats altogether. Today, hats are no longer a requirement to be worn with all outfits. Usually, hats are only used today for sun protection and for a few special occasions. However, with the volatility of the outfit trends, no one can really tell whether hats will be in fashion again, and what kind of hats will be developed in the future.